In honor of October being National LGBTQ History month, I feel it is important to talk about coming out. October 11th is National Coming Out Day, so this should be a time of reflection to those who wish they could come out and cannot find the means to do so. It should be a time for celebration of coming out, remember why we go through it, encouraging and helping others with coming out. We all know that it doesn’t stop; we are constantly coming out to new friends, to our jobs, family members, or whatever.
I feel our community, myself included, have often judged those that aren’t out. How many times have we been on our apps and have seen the married person that is looking for a hookup. We all go through that moment of “Who is this closeted queen looking for sex?” Or maybe that brief thought of fulfilling some fantasy of sleeping with the unattainable straight person. Instead of thinking what struggles they have be going through. Not everyone feels comfortable with the thought of coming out it is a huge decision. We all have worried about what we may lose when those around us find out that we are LGBTQ. Then there are those of us whose fear of that is crippling that we remain hidden.
Coming out as an older LGBTQ person has its own unique sets of challenges. Many grew up with the horrible images of what Hollywood portrayed LGBTQ people. It became second nature to hide, if you didn’t fit the stereotypes that were out there. That lead to getting married in hopes you could change. When it didn’t you ended up lying to your spouse as to where you were when you disappeared. Once you are married you fear coming out because you fear whom it may hurt your life as well as destroy your spouse for something you felt ashamed to share. It only becomes worse if there are children involved. So you lived a lie suppressing who you are or sneaking around cruisy spots when the need becomes too much to bear. We shouldn’t have to live this way.
If you are at a point you feel that you are ready to start coming out, there are still other concerns many face. The gay community is rife with showing hot young guys with “perfect” bodies that are happy, having lots of sex, and lots of attention. Age becomes an issue and you fear you will never find anyone that may be attracted to you. Due to this they often over compensate for it by dressing younger than they are, dying their hair, taking on younger affectations, or even spending large amounts of money. Drugs and alcohol often can come into the picture and lead to many more serious problems.
Many also worry that they carry to much baggage, from their lives before coming out, to find love. They fear that many will see they have an ex spouse or children and no one will want to take that on. Or their lack of experience will make them less desirable. None of us knew what we liked the first time we tried things with someone. Those that are coming out later in life feel they are coming late to the party. That everyone else already knows what they like and you have no idea. It may also be that they want a monogamous relationship and because of that they turn away people for fear that it won’t result in that.
Those that don’t come out are forced to endure the portion of the LGBTQ community that judges them and this leads to exacerbating those fears. We all need a safe network when we come out and if our community stands in judgment, how do we foster that support. Remember back to when you came out, it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. We all had some fear of people reacting to it. We should be the extended hand in the maelstrom, not the tide that forces them under. Yes I am an advocate for being out, it is important to do so. But I also understand why some chose not to and there are some valid reasons behind many of those choices. Just remember that we are only in charge of our happiness, not the happiness of others.
October is National LGBTQ History Month and October 11th is National Coming Out Day, reflect on the meaning of those and the strides we have taken when we decide to judge others. Remember those courageous people that have taken those steps and gain solace and strength. From them and us we should draw strength and be supportive of our fellow LGBTQ people. If we don’t, no one else will.